Employment numbers for April were released on May 7. The news is mixed.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as ARRA or economic stimulus), which helped to hold the jobless rate below 10% for the last several months, will cease to be available at the end of this fiscal year, Oct. 31, 2010. Millions of jobs are needed.
More than half those unemployed have been so for more than six months. This is the first recession in our history in which this has been the case. Unemployment benefits have been extended twice, and are now up to 99 weeks. Still, there are thousands of workers who have exceeded that limit. Legislation supporting the 99 weeks of benefits expires at the beginning of June 2010, and thousands of additional families will be without income unless there is a further extension. With each short-term (1-2 month) extension, states need to spend money they do not have for notices, changes in status, etc. The Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4851) would postpone the termination until November 6 – in the new fiscal year. It awaits Senate action.
Signed into Law
To date, the only “jobs bill” signed into law is the "Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act" (H.I.R.E. - H.R. 2847), which was signed by the president on March 18, 2010. It focuses on small businesses as a way to cure the employment crisis, and does so through a series of tax incentives.
Waiting in the Senate
“Emergency Supplemental for Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs for Youth, ending 9/30/2010” (H.R. 4899) is one of several job-promotion bills passed by the House and sent to the Senate. It has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is awaiting action there prior to going to the Senate floor. If this doesn’t receive action before the Memorial Day recess, there will be little use in passing the Summer Jobs for Youth section.
H.R. 4849 “Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010” includes tax breaks for small businesses and for capital gains, and a one-year extension ($25 billion) of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund – which has provided thousands of jobs for recipients of TANF over the last several months.
Waiting for House/Senate Agreement
The American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213) has been passed in both the House and the Senate. They differ, however, and await reconciling.
At this time, the bill is predominantly tax credits that expired at the end of 2009, including research and development, state sales tax deductions, and some which are energy related.
Advocates are working to extend successful ARRA provisions, otherwise expiring this year:
Missing seem to be a comprehensive view of what might make a significant difference, and the political will to push through meaningful jobs legislation. The balance between getting people back to work (and contributing to the revenue stream) and reducing the deficit seems tipped toward the latter.
Solely relying on tax breaks for small businesses seems unlikely to solve the unemployment problem. States facing bankruptcy are reducing staffs, further swelling the unemployment ranks. Reductions in state staffing also limits services in greater demand due to high unemployment.
People need jobs, and the nation has tremendous unmet needs – requiring workers. It seems reasonable to think that the federal government needs to act directly to create jobs.
There does not seem to be a vision for getting the nation on a firmer economic base, one that looks at the intersection of elements such as: